Nurturing a pregnancy and giving birth are among the most beautiful experiences a woman can have. And being a principal partner in determining how that experience plays out should belong to the patient and her family.
That’s the premise behind All Women’s Midwifery & Health Care, an innovative practice of nurse midwives that is pioneering how women approach prenatal care, labor, delivery and post natal care. Opened in November, the practice focuses on women’s health including pregnancy preplanning, OB care for pregnancy and standard well-women gynecological care.
The friendly staff at the newly opened All Women’s Midwifery & Health Care on County Line Road offers midwife services to the community, as well as low-risk obstetrics and all gynecological care. Pictured from left: Sarah Grahm, medical assistant; Michelle Hale, certified nurse-midwife; Lenora McCall, CNM; Cheryl Collito, CNM; Vivian McCraw, CNM; Destiny Cruz, office assistant; and Darryn King, biller. CAROL APPLETON
The team at All Women’s consists of four well known, highly respected nurse midwives who have a combined total of 88 years experience, many of those years working with patients in Hernando County.
Midwives are not new to the Hernando County obstetrics community. In fact, Dr. Shakfeh, a well respected presence in obstetrics and gynecological care, brought the first nurse midwife into his practice in 1995. Vivian McCraw is now one of four practicing under the umbrella of All Women’s Midwifery & Health Care.
“There were other midwives at the time working in hospitals in other counties,” Lenora McCall said. One of four midwives at All Women’s Midwifery & Health Care, McCall has an extensive resume of experience in the field. “But Vivian was the first not only in Hernando County but in private practice. It’s pretty unique.”
Lenora McCall has been a midwife since 1976. The difference between having a midwife instead of a traditional obstetrician, McCall explained, comes down to the level of personalized care for the patient.
“When we see patients in the office, we have more time to give to them,” she said. “We get to know our patients better. And during the labor, we stay with them longer.”
The midwife is there during active labor through early post partum recovery. Unless there is a medical emergency requiring surgery where the physician would be called, the midwife will complete the delivery process without the need for a physician.
Nurse midwives are completely qualified to handle normal low risk deliveries. They have advanced training, McCall explained, making them registered nurses who have gone on to obtain a degree in nurse midwifery.
“The midwives will consult or refer to Dr. Shakfeh when the need arises, according to our written protocols,” Michelle Hale said.
“In Florida, we are licensed as advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNP) with a nurse midwife specialty,” McCall explained. Education is at the Masters level, she added.
After working as a labor and delivery nurse for years, Cheryl Collito decided to take additional education for her nurse midwifery credentials. She felt women weren’t being treated the way they should in traditional settings.
“I had seen a lot of women receiving C-sections when they didn’t really need it,” she said. “I wanted to take care of women better, to give them choices and be involved in their care.” She has been practicing as a nurse midwife for 15 years.
Michelle Hale wanted to be a nurse midwife since she was a little girl. She became a Registered Nurse in labor and delivery and completed her higher education in 2000.
“I was an ICU Charge Nurse,” she said, “then the Director of Ob/Peds at Oak Hill prior to going to school for midwifery.” Hale worked with Dr. Shakfeh as a certified nurse midwife for the next 12 years.
Hale is also the Vice Chair for the Tampa Bay Chapter of ACNM.
Vivian McCraw had 22 years of experience as an OB nurse and worked along side lay midwives in NY. She interviewed with Dr. Shakfeh in 1995 and become the first midwife in Hernando County.
“I appreciated the chance to bring midwifery care to my community,” McCraw said. After two years at a busy migrant centered clinic in Bradenton, she joined the practice of Dr. Armbruster in 1999.
Lenora McCall was hired by Dr. Armbruster in February of 1999 and remained until his unexpected passing late last year.
McCall, McCraw and Collito worked together for 14 years. Therefore, they’re rapport as a team is already established. They had also worked with Michelle Hale during her time at Oak Hill Hospital, making the blending of these four highly trained and dedicated nurse midwives effortless.
All Women’s Midwifery & Health Care is a highly specialized alternative for women who want a more personalized experience with their pregnancies and general gynecological care.
Hale pointed out that most situations can be handled completely by the skill levels of the midwives in the practice. “We offer VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), low risk OB care, twins and moderate risk pregnancies with the consultation of a physician, and all gynecological care,” she said.
In addition to more personalized care, All Women’s is also state of the art in technological advances. They offer one of the few GE VSCANs, which is a handheld ultrasound device.
In addition to using a Doppler to listen to the fetal heartbeat, All Women’s uses the GE VSCAN to visualize the baby at every visit. The device actually records images and movies in fetuses as early as six weeks gestation. The images and videos are downloadable and can be shared with the patients.
All Women’s Midwifery & Health Care and Dr. Shakfeh are the only practices in the Tampa Bay area that use the GE VSCAN technology.
One objective the team focuses on is educating women on the importance of allowing nature to predict a normal and healthy gestational period. The trend to induce labor is beginning to dissipate, McCall said, as women are better informed about the importance of allowing their pregnancies to complete their natural course.
And, the office is proud of another important fact. Since opening, the C-section rate at Spring Hill Regional Hospital has dropped from 40 percent to 20 percent.
All Women’s Midwifery & Health Care is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5; Tuesday and Thursday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
“We take care of the whole women,” Michelle Hale said. Not just in health care needs, she added, but by making the office accessible, even for busy schedules.
Name: All Women’s Midwifery & Health Care
Location: 34 Seven Hills Drive, Spring Hill 34609
Kim Dame is a correspondent for Hernando Today. She can be reached at Damewrites@yahoo.com.